You can imagine my delight at finding authentic homestyle Gujarati food in Chennai when all my life Ive been penning love letters to it.And whats more Geetha Mehta, is also well-known for rolling out and neatly packing 1,000 Roti’s & Pickles & Parathas (theplas) for students going abroad. These have a shelf life for a year, are cholesterol-free and yummy too.As though all this wasn’t enough to endear her to me, she also conducts cooking classes.
But first, heres an example of my open love letter to Gujarati food:
“Hu tane prem karu chhu.” I love you for your pristine vegetarian-ness, for your sheer balance of sweet and sour, tangy and bitter, in fact your sophistication and variety of flavors leave me kind of week-kneed. One look at that silver thali beckoning with a myriad dishes, from crunchy farsans to luscious sweets like the curd based shrikhand seduce.The melt-in-the-mouth, slim and silken rolls of besan (khandvi) the steamed, spongy wedges of besan (dhokla) and your winter special “undhio” are irresistible. Especially, the undhio with it’s broad beans, yams, eggplant and more baked in earthenware pots. And that “paunk” (fresh kernels of wheat or millet, eaten with sugar balls) is just poetry in itself. As for that famed Gujarati dahi “kadhi”, I love it most when it is sweetened, like the Surtis like it.
Using only the finest ingredients and “plenty of love” Saurashtra-born Geetha makes the most delightful of authentic Gujarati food (also South and North Indian). Its her unique pumpkin khatta dhokla that I taste at our “Whats hot tasting session”. And dry fruit shrikhand (she makes more than ten flavors, including Cadbury chocolate for kids). Looking for diet options ? Bread Rabri, variety of Shrikhand, Aam Ras and so on
Even her true blue Gujarati pickles unerringly spiced are worth trying. Call and check about her classes, tiffin dabbas and ofcourse the longlasting theplas for taking abroad.
1605, J Block, 9th Street, 15 th Main Road
Tamilnadu – 600 040
26164841 and 98400 66263
The story is that when a new Gujarati bride is being checked out, the very first and most important test that she must pass is that of making the perfect dal , with just that perfect balance of sweet and tangl. So I requested Geetha for her authentic recipe. Here it is
- Thoor dhal 1 cup
- Green Chilli 1
- Ginger 1 small piece
- Ground nut 1 spoon
- Salt to taste
- Haldi powder ¼ teaspoon
- Chilli Powder ¼ teaspoon
- Jaggery small piece
- Kokum / Tamarind to taste
- Oil 1 table spoon
- Mustard seeds ¼ teaspoon
- Methi Dhana ¼ teaspoon
- Asafoetida 1 pinch
- Curry leaves 4 – 5
- Coriander leaves 1 table spoon
- Tomato 1
Boil the dhal and separately ground nut. Then, mash nicely, mix the ground nut and keep aside. For seasoning, heat oil and put mustard seeds. Then add asafetida and cut tomatoes. Cut chilli and ginger and add all the remaining ingredients. After frying nicely, add to dhal. Add water as required and boil for 5 to 7 min. Then add coriander leaves.
The perfect snack, silken rolls of khandvi are my favorite and delightful to taste. Light. And healthy roo.
- Sour Butter milk 3 cups
- Gram dhal 1 cup
- Asafoetida 1 pinch
- Ginger chilli paste 1 teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Haldi powder ¼ teaspoon
- Oil 1 table spoon
- Mustard seeds 1 teaspoon
- Til 1 teaspoon
- Curry leaves 10 – 15
- Coriander leaves 1 table spoon
Add all ingredients to butter milk and mix well and keep stir on slow flame till it thickens. Pour on individual plates and spread well and let it cool down. Heat oil and mustard seeds, til and curry leaves. Make the poured batter into rolls and cut to smaller pieces. Spread the seasoning on the rolls and sprinkle coriander leaves.
Which is the first place Id look for recipes and love passed down through generations? A home kitchen ofcourse. And when that home kitchen also caters professionally then the treat doubles.And each time I fly into Chennai I find that the home kitchen magic works wonders. Heres a happy story that began in Bangalore, when three gifted women cooked together. Marium Banu and her two young daughters Sabira and Rashida not only cooked to their mothers recipes but were also actively encouraged by their father to attend cooking classes and learn Moghlai and Continental cooking. Not only did Sabira learn and cook at the young age of fourteen but also rapidly picked up all her mothers cooking tips and guidelines. After marriage Sabira moved to Chennai. Along with her husband Javed,
Sabira has been catering from home for the past fifteen years. They pay personal attention to every detail…from shopping to cooking. They also customize their cooking and menus to the specific needs of their customers. She devotes most of her time to cooking and refining her skills.
At our “Whats hot” tasting session she brought along some of her signature dishes for tasting. Fragrant and rich with masala Biryanis (both mutton and chicken) their specialties are malai chicken, butter chicken, tandoori, drums of heaven, sachlik kebabs, shami kebabs, chicken croquettes, malai kebabs, kheema naan, vegetable naan and assorted desserts. While home delivery is free within 2 kms, they take orders atleast 24 hours in advance.
Sabira shares below her easy-to-make and yummy-to-taste chicken lollipop recipe,
48 Ramaswamy road, D 2. #rd floor, G R A partments, KK Sagar,
Contact Numbers: 9962023786, 9380668064, 9382209805.
SABIRA BANU’S RECIPE OF CHICKEN LOLLIPOP
Chicken – 4 Breast Pieces (Boneless) Grind in the Mixer
Add Chopped Coriander, 2 Onions, 4 Green Chillies, Salt, Red Chilli Powder (As Requried), Juice of 1 Lime.
Mix the above ingredients along with the chicken and form lollipops and insert a toothpick for easy holding. Dip in egg and bread crumbs and shallow fry.
Serve Dipped in Garlic Sauce.
Recipe for Garlic Sauce:
2 Tbsp ginger, 4 Tbsp Garlic and 4 Green Chillies ( Grind Coarsely in the mixer )
Maggi Hot and Sweet Sauce – 4 Tbsp
8 x 8 Sauce – 2 Tbsp
Ajinomoto – A pinch
Sugar – 1/4 Tsp
Salt – 1/2 Tsp
Tomato – 1 (Blanced and Cut Finely)
Juice of 1/2 Lime
Corinader – Finely Chopped
Fry the Ginger Garlic Chilly Mixture in 1Tbsp of oil till all the smell is gone. Then add the finely chopped tomato and fry again. Add the sauces kept measured one at a time. Bring to a boil and switch off.
Looking for unusual and personalised Diwali Cupcakes? Need eggless cupcakes, desserts et al? Low calorie, Low fat, and Sugarfree? 3D Mickey Cookies ? 3D Batman and Spiderman ? Voila! The “Sweet fairy” conjures them all. Tops the diwali specials with chocolate diyas, festoons them with rangoli and more.
I don’t know about you, but I believe in Santa Claus and elves and fairies. And for our “Whats hot tasting session” when I met “ Sweet fairy” I was delighted. “I was always obsessed by fairies since my childhood”Apeksha Agarwal explained and so when this daughter of the Kitchen Queen title winner of Jaipur took to baking “Sweet fairy” was the most natural name for her home kitchen company.This young lady learnt her first recipes from her mom and heres the good news, she bakes only eggless desserts.
“Since my closeones are vegetarians and prefer eggless, food, I ve specialised in EGGLESS baking” Apeksha clarified. And sure enough all her creations are soft and sweet and yummy… be it cupcakes, teacakes, custom made cakes, cookies, customized cookies, desserts (Apple Pie, Tiramisu, cheesecakes, Trifle puddings and eclairs), homemade breads, chocolates .
Particular about the finest ingredient and freshness she keeps introducing new desserts in their menu, Red Velvet Cupcake, “I have also started making the Green, Yellow and the Orange Velvet Cupcakes. The major change here is flavour of icing, these are frosted with Cardamom flavour cream” she explains. I have yet to try these, but enjoyed the ones I did.
“There is a common misconception in baking that eggless bakes are not as soft as those made with eggs. This is not true at all and the proof of the pudding is in the eating.” Literally and otherwise.
- “Sweet fairy” kiddy specials include designer cupcakes with any cartoon characters, 3D mickey cookies, cake pops, designer cookies (doremon, mickey, winni the pooh), designer cakes (for example doll cake for girls, car cakes, cricket cakes for boys).
Apeksha Agarwal, Sweet Fairy
Call – 9677267380
email – firstname.lastname@example.org
One can call, email or contact her through their Facebook page and place orders and pick their desserts.
SWEET FAIRY CHOCOLATE CAKE
1/2 can (400 gms for a full can) condensed milk
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
125 gms all-purpose flour
1 tbsp Cocoa
1 tbsp Chocolate powder
60 ml, melted butter
1 tsp Vanilla essence
- Sieve flour, cocoa, chocolate powder, baking powder and baking soda.
– Mix the condensed milk, flour, 75 ml water, vanilla essence and melted butter thoroughly
– Grease and dust a 7″ diameter pan
– Pour the cake mixture in the prepared pan.
– Bake in a hot oven at 190 C for approx 20 min (check by inserting a toothpick, when inserted it should come out clean)
Take it out on a wire rack and cool it away from the fan
One of my greatest joys is flying down from Mumbai to Chennai to spot talent that hums in home kitchens and cooks and bakes up delights. At these fabulous fun and exciting “Whats Hot tasting sessions” anyone and everyone who wants to take part emails (email@example.com) and we invite them to bring their culinary creations and join us. And each time I get amazed and delighted with the amount of talent and the diversity. Its also such a joy to meet the dedicated and passionate home talent. It is at the very latest such session that I meet Jayashree Manohar.
THE HEALING POWER OF REIKI AND CHOCOLATE
Grandmaster in Reiki, Jayashree Manohar turned her attention to making chocolates eight years ago. Ofcourse, she continues to give Reiki (to those who need it) and does not charge for it too. Her chocolates are in multi-generational demand. Other than her clients, her parents as well her children love them. Ask for her chocolate roses ( created on sticks, like lollipops and priced at Rs 25 each) they make for great party giveaways. She also makes a Boule’D’ Amande,spice Almond chocollates,Truffle Balls,Swirled Marble Chocolates and Crunchy Peanut coins too. The creative Jayashree also makes “Model Of Taj Mahal” chocolates with imported brand of chocolate combination of Dark, milk and White chocolate. Rates differ according to the varieties of the chocolates. She offers special discounts for bulk orders. Jayashree makes chocolates for the Rotary club of Chennai. Do you believe in the healing power of chocolate? I ask her. No prizes for guessing that she responded with a big resounding “yes”
JAYASHREE MANOHAR, 482,Pantheon Road ,Egmore,Chennai-600008.Mobile No 9841974601/ 9176069367 /42146706
I admit, I am a chocoholic. But what follows is not the delirious outpouring of an addicted chocoholic. This is the result of the most recent research and it “was not supported by any cocoa or chocolate companies,” I follow not just the culinary advances but also the medical and health research that is being done on my favorite subject. Till now we are all aware of the beneficial effects of dark chocolate on blood pressure, but here comes a research which presents another beneficial aspect. This was conducted in May, at the University of Reading in England. They measured the visual awareness and motion detection skills of 30 healthy young adults two hours after they ate either dark or white chocolate. It might interest you to know that dark chocolate contains antioxidants from cacao beans called cocoa flavanols or CFs, whereas white chocolate contains only trace amounts. 30 people were divided into two groups One group ate dark chocolate (containing 720 mg CF), and the other was given white chocolate. Then they were given a series of tests two hours later, when the CFs would be producing their physiological effects. The effects on vision were measured by various complex tests. The researchers recorded the results and then, a week later, they actually repeated the same experiment with the same 30 subjects, only this time they swapped sides. The 15 white chocolate subjects now ate darkchocolate instead, and vice versa.What they found, both weeks, was an improvement in visual andcognitive performances of the subjects who ate the dark chocolate. Quite clearly, CFs increase blood flow to the eyes and brain and that this is what leads to enhanced functioning of those structures. Chocoholics are rejoicing.
SAILING INTO HEALTH
What on earth is this photo of a sailing regatta doing in my Food column? The answer is simple, the young sailing champion Samaria is the inspiration and the reason behind her mother Gulnaz, baking the most unique and healthy cakes. Having tasted Gulnaz’s baking in Chennai at our “Whats hot tasting session” I realized that I had not taken the recipe for her healthy cake. So when I called Gulnaz from Mumbai, they were in the midst of a sailing regatta in Hyderabad which the talented young Samaria was taking part in. I also requested for an on location photo. Voila! Thanks to high speed internet, here it is.
FROM BANKING TO BAKING
The multi-talented Gulnaz Ali having worked for more than ten years in a successful bankers job quit to take care of her daughter and turned to her other passion, baking. “I did this to keep my daughter’s sweet tooth satisfied”. And then ofcourse, ensured that she not only used the finest and freshest of ingredients but also the healthiest. Gulnaz’s healthy cakes are in great demand, as are her regular cakes. She has studied baking and taken special fondant classes too. Ask for her scrumptious banana walnut cake. Amongst her regular cakes, it’s the orange and a Almond cake, hazelnut chocolate cake and strawberry pies…which are her signatures. The recipe for Gulnaz’s part wholewheat cake follows, as do her tips for healthy baking.
GULNAZ ALI, 2/157 Karikata Kuppam, Muthukadu, Near Mayajaal, Chennai. Ph 9840943500/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Gulnaz’s tips for healthy baking
*Use homemade cream cheese/ mascarpone cheese instead of store bought. This way you can keep a check on the amount of sugar in the product.
* Replace sugar with jaggery.
* Replace maida with wholewheat flour. Start with replacing 1/4 quantity in the recipe and slowly increase the amount of wholewheat flour used.
Part wholewheat banana walnut cake.
Maida – 1 cup Whole wheat flour – 1 cup Baking soda – 1/2 tsp Salt – 1/4 tsp Banana – 2, large Unsalted butter – 1/2 cup Jaggery – 1/2 cup Granulated sugar – 4 tbsp Buttermilk – 1/2 cup Vegetable oil – 4 tbsp Egg – 2 Vanilla extract – 1 tsp Chocolate chips and walnuts/ almonds – 1/2 cup Preheat oven to 180C. Grease one 8 inch pan.
Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl, whisk together the banana, unsalted butter, jaggery, sugar, buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and fold together with a rubber spatula until completely combined. Coat the chocolate chips with maida and mix into the batter. Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake at 180C for 30 to 35 mins or till done when checked with a skewer.
YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE
Do you want to be featured in this column? Like Gulnaz Ali today. Then read on to find out more,The hunt is on, I am looking for baking and cooking talent. Do you bake or cook out of home and so so professionally? Do you know anyone who does so? Please do get in touch with me and we will invite you, along with some others for a “Whats hot tasting session”. After tasting your creations and chatting with you and photographing you, I will then write about you. Please do email email@example.com with the subject CHENNAI FOODLINE. You can also tweet and instagram t @rashmiudaysingh.
I write this from Gulmurg and I am delighted to hear from you on email, instagram and twitter. Thanks for keeping me plugged to the foodie network of Chennai. Love your foodie news and views…on foodstores, food services, dessert makers, caterers and more. Please do keep calling (9884065010 ) emailing (Rashmiudaysingh2015@gmail.com) tweeting, instagraming, FB (@rashmiudaysingh). Waitingly yours.
Presenting the latest edition of our “Whats hot Tasting session”. Please take a look at the accompanying photograph which I shot. You are looking at Chennai’s Foodie entrepreneurs, home-bakers many of who have recently entered the food scene. I flew down from Mumbai to Chennai for this “Whats hot Tasting session” and also for shooting the jury episodes of “Times Now’s Foodie” show. Sure! The TV shoot in a local and also high-end restaurant was interesting, but meeting this home-talent was even more engrossing.
All made in home kitchens…from baklava to masalas, from health bars to traditional Indian mithai. I will be writing about each one in detail later on, meanwhile, here’s a quick look…
MIND OVER BATTER
“Mind over batter” is the name of Aarti Rajkumar’s designer cake studio where her Belgian chocolate dream and Banofee pies are lovingly baked. Nahla Fathima, conducts H & H Gourmet classes and is known for the Red Velvet and chocolate hazelnut ecstasy she bakes. Gazeena Sulu’s “Sweet life from Sulu’s kitchen” makes “Patterned jaconde” and other desserts. Innovative and creative, Deepasri Kar ‘s cupcakes and mousses created with palm jaggery (the seasonal, winter gur) are a delight.
BAKLAVA, BADAM KE LOAZ TO HEALTH BARS
Looking for home-made Baklava? M Ayesha Ruhi is your answer. Azra Zafar specializes in traditional, home made mithai be it Ande ki Piyosi or Bread ka halwa and badam ke loaz. Balancing these with healthful, organic fare is Sadia Gibran, who specializes in Splendid health mixes, Oats and Prunes bar, low fat date and walnut cake and more.
Azeema Shahul makes
Wheat muffins, chocolate truffle balls and many a homemade dessert, cakes & chocolates, in a customized designed packing.
BANKERS TURNED FOOD ENTREPRENEURS
Interestingly, two ladies in our “Whats hot tasting session” were successful bankers who are now delighting the Foodie world. Anisa Arif (who Id actually met in her Stanchart days) is now creating a range of the most innovative and amazing masalas you can buy online, be it Sindhi Biryani masala or the Arabic barbecue mix and more. After ten years in the banking line Gulnaz Ali turned to baking. Orange and almond cake, hazelnut cake and more.
Joining me for our “Whats hot tasting session” is the brilliant Senior Executive Chef Ajit Bangera of the ITC Grand Chola which has been making waves since it opened mid 2012. We conduct our Tasting session in this sprawling palatial hotel that pays homage to the great dynasty of the Cholas who nurtured Tamil Nadu’s golden age.All ten of it’s iconic restaurants are being helmed by Chef Bangera. This includes their brand new Italian restaurant, their cute deli contemporary shop “Nutmeg”.
YOUR QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Here’s how we have been helping over the years. Over a fortnight ago, I got a call from Pashupati who said his wife Annapurani was looking for cooking classes in Chennai and that he had read about my “foodonline” several years ago. So I invited Annapurani to our “Whats hot tasting session” and introduced her around, so her queries were answered. Should you have any food or food service related questions, please do email
DO YOU WANT TO JOIN US?
Would you like to be featured here? Are you a home-entreprenuer? Please email (firstname.lastname@example.org, Anjalisharma966@gmail.com) call (09884065010) tweet, instagram, (@rashmiudaysingh) FB. Anjali Sharma will get in touch with you and invite you to our next “Whats hot tasting session”. Looking forward to hearing from you. Waitingly yours.
P.S. Watch this space (every other Friday) for more on each of the home-entrepreneurs featured above.